Brigade HQ– MAHMOUD GAP.
0300 6 Innisks moved to take over positions of 10 Rifle Brigade (J 6507) and went under command 26 Armoured Brigade. Coy 2 LIR took over from 6 Innisks, Squadron 2 Lothians and Coy 2 LIR were to be prepared to operate south of Goubellat supported by 152 Field Regiment; object to cover 6 Innisks’ occupation of the position.
0805 Squadron 2 Lothians moved south from Goubellat were engaged by A/Tk guns from farms 652175, 663174 and 648183. Some of the tanks were bogged and H Coy 2 LIR was sent to their assistance. The orders to 6215-6517.
1500 Infantry had reached 6518 unmolested and enemy were withdrawing under heavy artillery fire to farm 662173.
1700 H Coy were relieved on the first objective but could not take the second objective before dark. Enemy fire from wadi and trenches to the east of the farm and the Coy was withdrawn with 5 killed and 12 wounded (see Appendix 25). One object of the attack had been to allow the bogged tanks to be recovered. This project had to be abandoned, but it turned out that of 8 tanks, 5 were undoubtedly u/s while only 1 was certainly worth recovering.
During the morning, Commander 72 A/Tk Regiment made a recce with brigade I.O. for a tactical minefield (Appendix 22).
Intelligence summary for 11 Jan was issued. “Lessons from action by H Coy 11 Jan 43” a report from Commander 2 LIR is attached (Appendix 24).
2105 Brigade Commander visited GOC at Divisional Command (Farm 553025) returning at 2359 hours. During the day, further attempts were made by 10 R.B. to capture Hill 6809, but enemy remained in position. Vehicle movement from the east indicated either supplies or reinforcements.
1 RIrF – DOUAR.
Details of the activities of this night are given in the Appendix.
0500 B, C and A Coys reported tanks moving south from the area Goubellat and 2/18 Bttn Infantry reported a smoke screen in that area. An L.O. sent from brigade informed CO that am 10 Jan enemy estimated 2 Coys in strength had reached area main road 6507, first seizing 10 Rifle Brigade OP in area 6808. Two companies 10 RB, supported by ½ squadron of 17/21 Lancers, attacked north and seized high ground astride Rd 6508. At 0300 hrs, 6 Innisks moved via El Aroussa and Bou Arada to take over this farm from 10 RB coming under command 26 Armoured Brigade.
0615 At first light, one squadron of 2 Lothians moved south to cover the occupation of this position. They were shelled by the enemy and deploying off the road, 8 became “bogged”.
1000 They were then attacked with HE and A/Tk fire and… which set one on fire and rendered the others not worth recovering.
1400 G & H Coys 2 LIR observed advance across the Plaine De Goubellat eastward to destroy the enemy who were harassing the tanks. They appeared to be making good progress in the face of MG fire.
1700 1 RIrF ordered to cooperate with 2 LIR in forming a bridgehead in the Plaine De Goubellat east of the road Medjez-el-Bab to Bou Arada behind which sec vehicles would come up under cover of darkness and save the tanks that were still worth recovering. A Coy with under command one platoon D Coy were ordered to hold the road..on the approaches to Goubellat. This was just being put into effect when H Coy reported that it was unable to take its second objective, although G Coy had taken over from them at the front. This made it impossible for the recovery project to be carried out. The orders were cancelled, but in case an alternative plan necessitating moves by 1 RIrF during the night should arise, all patrol activity was also cancelled. Capt HFW Holmes left to take up staff appointment.
2300 Adjutant summoned to Brigade to receive orders for 12 Jan from Brigadier on his return from Divisional HQ.
6 Innisks – IN THE FIELD.
0115 CO see 2.i.c. Coys Capt Little who were to go out on recce and takes the recce party forward to recce possibly at 0200 hrs (see att O.O. order). Coy 2 LIR are to take on the Bttn position. D Coy cannot move until it arrives.
0200 No sign yet of TCVs which Brigade has ordered up. It is confirmed that only 16 will be available instead of 20 as 4 have been bogged in treacherous slippery roads.
0315 13 TCVs arrive (three more having been bogged) owing to bad road and dark night.
0400 Bttn moves off for a tricky drive of about 25 miles to be attached to 26 Armoured Brigade via El Aroussa.
0715 Bttn arrives in dribs and drabs at debussing point west of Bou Arada.
0915 Bttn is reported all in less than one platoon of B Coy which is not yet unbogged.
A minimum of transport is brought up. The rear link Gin Palace is not considered as a vehicle to bring into forward areas. The forward link 8 cat is therefore used as rear link and CO carrier as forward link. CO carrier unfortunately broke down before a mile had been covered and forward link is transferred to D Coy 19 set.
1025 CO and I.O. with party return from recce. The Bttn comes under command 26 Armoured Brigade Gp.
1035 The Bttn moves forward on foot about 5 miles to take over front..taken for the enemy this morning. The Bttn moves up with about 100 yds between sections and 300 yards between Coys. D, A & B in that order going via Bou Arada and C Coy across country west of Bou Arada.
1115 Bttn HQ consisting of CO and I.O. in AA 8 cwt. Adjutant in rear link move up to Bttn HQ.
1200 Message received for CO to see Brigadier at 1230.
1215 Coys arriving in Coy areas. The Bttn takes up position astride Bou Arada – Goubellat road. D forward on left of road. C on forward slopes of road with B on their right and A further back covering right or left rear flank. Bttn in A Coy area.
Coys set to work to dig themselves in. “Dig or die” being the motto. Much to be accomplished in the next 48 hrs to make Bttn safe from counter attack.
1500 I.O. interviews two British war correspondents.
1530 Battery Commander D Coy 12 RHA arrived and tied up ends about defence of guns, D/F etc. CO goes around Coys during afternoon but is cut short with order to proceed to Brigade HQ at 1630hrs.
1700 CO returns with news that Bttn is going to put in an attack on Two Tree Hill . O group conference is ordered and as much rest for remainder as role allows.
A wet night.
0100 E Company at normal conditions.
1230 H Company relieve crew of tanks of A Squadron, 2nd Lothians. Under fire from enemy anti-tank guns and were bogged either side of Goubellat-Bou Arada Rd. H Company were ordered to attack farms 651176 and 662173.
1300 G Company moved off to support H Company.
1530 H Company took first objective.
1612 Eight tanks withdraw into Goubellat.
1700 G Company took over first objective from H Company
1700 H Company come under heavy machine gun and mortar fire and were unable to advance past Wadi 6617.
1800 E Company ordered to withdrawn to original battalion position. G Company also moved back leaving one platoon to patrol area of battle.
Result of battle: 2nd Lothians had nine tanks knocked out or bogged. H Company had three killed and 12 wounded. Casualties were inflicted by the enemy. Enemy identification Hermann Goerring Regiment (12th machine gun company).
2355 H and G Companies returned to former positions by TCV.